The Orbit Inn in Palm Springs… Tiki Ti’s in Los Angeles… original Disneyland… The Hearst Castle… the Pacific Coast Highway… the Tonga Room in San Francisco… The Madonna Inn — yowza… the painted ladies from Full House? Following up on the story about their retro wedding in Wildwood, New Jersey, well of course Joe and Nikki had a retro honeymoon. Joe did a FABULOUS job writing it up.:
“After such and exciting weekend we came home for a day before hoping on a plane for the West Coast. We had always wanted to see all of California and figured this was going to be the best time to do it. It’s easier to splurge a little since it’s the Honeymoon and the weather was going to be nice. I’m also a big believer in investing in your own economy, especially these days.
We flew into San Diego and man is that airport downtown. I felt like we were gonna clip some of the buildings on the way in. Hopped in our rental PT Cruiser convertible and took off. Hey, if you’re gonna drive the Pacific Coast Highway, you gotta have a convertible. We had booked a room at a small, but very cool hotel called the Pearl. It’s a Mid Century Hotel that was renovated not too long ago to have some modern amenities but still retain that vintage vibe. I highly recommend staying here to anyone who is planning on visiting San Diego. As most know San Diego has a pretty famous Zoo, so we checked that out, along with going to Coronado, and some of the other “touristy” spots. We also found a pretty cool architectural salvage place. There aren’t many, if any of those in this area so it was nice to see vintage/antique goods being saved.
From San Diego we headed to the Mecca of Mid Century, Palm Springs. Along with being massively into the MCM lifestyle, I’m a huge alternative energy geek. The highway into Palm Springs is lined for what seems like miles of Wind Turbines chugging out tons of electricity. I was so geeked up about seeing them in action. Our first stop was the Visit’s Center, which is a MidMod gem itself. From there we went to our hotel, the Orbit Inn, which we found in and ad in Atomic Ranch. It’s a really small hotel with only about a dozen rooms or so and it’s really private. The first night we were there, we and one other guest were the only people staying there. Another thing that was surprising was that after 8pm, you were on your own, no hotel staff at all.
The next morning we get up early and head to the edge of town for the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. It goes about 8,500ft up and offers spectacular views of the valley. After that little excursion we went on a hunt for some of the incredible Mid Century homes in the area. Luckily maps are readily available as to where they are tucked away. We got to see Elvis’ honeymoon house, Frank Sinatra’s house, the list goes on and on. The pictures will speak for themselves.
We spent one more night in Palm Springs, checked out their weekly street fair, then made our way back out to the coast to Los Angeles. After checking in to our hotel we went straight to Hollywood Blvd to see the festivities. On our list was this tiny tiki place called Tiki Ti’s. It might not be much bigger than our living room but man was it authentic. There was a father and son behind the bar, and his father opened Tiki Ti’s back in 1961. The next day we got up and started to explore the area and made some stops on Melrose for vintage shopping and then to the Petersen Auto Museum.
Being married to a big kid, we couldn’t go to L.A. and not visit Disneyland. They had the Haunted Mansion decked out in Nightmare before Christmas decorations since it was just about Halloween when we were there. The Tiki Garden was really cool too since it was the original one.
On our way up the PCH we made one last stop in L.A at the Getty Museum. It is an incredible piece of architecture that sits on the outskirts of town. After seeing what they had to offer it was back in the car for the longest part of the journey: the L.A to SanFran leg. Now, being impulsive, we didn’t realize that this was going to take 9 hours to complete when we made our plans. Luckily along the way is one of the greatest roadside Hotels in America, the Madonna Inn. I was starting to get tired and didn’t know if we were going to keep on going or if we were going to stop. The instant we saw the first sign for the Madonna we both knew we were going to stop for the night. Let me te ll you, it lives up to every expectation you’d have of a place like this. We chose the “What’s Left” room, since some of the other feature rooms were pretty pricey. We went into downtown San Luis Obispo for dinner then back to the room to rest for the next day’s driving.
Our GPS was not the most accurate or working correctly so we had to use roadsigns and a good old fashioned map at some points, but this lead us to the best “off the plans” destination of the trip, the Hearst Castle. It was way out of the way but we figured we were never going to be in that area again so we had to see it. It ate up the better part of the day but it was worth it. A side effect of going out to see the Castle was that it put us right onto one of the most scenic portions of the Pacific Coast Highway, a portion we would have missed otherwise.
In some areas you could only do 20 or 25 miles per hour because of the incline and angles of the roadway. We stopped several times to take pictures then continued towards San Fransisco. Since we stopped at the Hearst Castle, we didn’t get into SanFran until after dark. Since we were “wingin’ it” for a good portion of the Honeymoon we weren’t booking hotels until we knew where we were going to be for the night. Luckily we had a laptop and internet card to book them while we were driving. After checking out some different hotels online we picked Hotel Tomo in Japantown. Dropped off our stuff and went out to see the city. We had been told about a great bar called the Bigfoot Lodge, so that’s where we went. Met some really cool people, played Bingo and won a free shot, then went back to the room to crash. (Joe added in an email later that they also went to the famous Tonga Room, shown below:)
Here’s a side-story within the Honeymoon: we thought we had only booked 10 nights before heading back home. When we were at the Madonna I actually called US Air to see if they could change our flight for one more day, they couldn’t so we said “oh well”. This made us cram all of SanFran into a shorter time than planned. We rushed around all day, seeing the Golden Gate bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf & Ghirardelli Square, and of course, Lombard Street.
We get back to the room to get ready to pack and pre-board for the flight the next day and something happens. Nikki says we don’t have any flight information available. So I check my email with the info and guess what, WE HAVE ONE MORE DAY! Somehow we got the dates messed up and as it turned out all along we had that extra day we wanted. This gave us the time to enjey San Fransisco as we wanted. We went to the Haight Asbury district, the Japanese Tea Garden, and you can’t go to SanFran without seeing the Painted Ladies, also better known for being the houses in the opening of “Full House”.
So that concludes our 11 day, 1100 mile journey up the Pacific Coast Highway. We highly recommend everyone drive at least a portion of it and enjoy the beauty that is right in our own country. We’re planning on going back sometime soon but there are other spots on the big map we want to see first. Hope you enjoyed the journey as much as we did. Keep tabs on our shenanigans at NewfoundFreetime and Trixiepinks.
My goodness, you guys are young. I’m exhausted just reading this. Seem like you went everywhere. But hey, what about the Villa Basque? Next time, I guess. Many thanks, Joe!
Following is Joe’s slideshow. To launch it, click on the first thumbnail. The image will enlarge. Proceed via the arrows under each image by his description. If you need to stop or ‘lose your place’ you can launch the slide show again via a thumbnail anywhere within the show. That is: You don’t have to start at the beginning.